This episode of On the Fly by tablehopper is with Jesse Ziff Cool, the chef and restaurateur known for her Flea Street restaurant in Menlo Park, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, an incredible achievement, as well as operating Cool Cafe on Stanford’s campus. Jesse is an early trailblazer in the organic food and sustainable agriculture movement, opening the country’s first organic restaurant in 1976, and continues to share her deep knowledge and culinary experience as an author, educator, consultant, and community activist.
Her visionary ways have not stopped, however, and in response to the pandemic, she has completely restructured her restaurant’s compensation model. We talk about her newly launched Heart of House, which creates a more equitable structure and fair pay for her employees by offering an alternative to tipping (an outdated practice that is racist, sexist, and ageist, among other things) and instead has her team share a service charge—called a gratitude—that is distributed equally and fairly to all hourly workers.
It’s so inspiring to hear from Jesse about how things have changed internally at the restaurant, starting with a boost in morale, which is especially needed during these challenging times. As restaurants are looking ahead to implementing structural changes that need to be made industry-wide, this interview will hopefully inspire and educate. Thank you for listening.
Flea Street: www.cooleatz.com (Instagram: @flea_street)
To reach Jesse, her email is email@example.com
Meals of Gratitude: mealsofgratitude.org
Racist History of Tipping: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/17/william-barber-tipping-racist-past-227361
Chef Amanda Cohen on How the No-Tipping Movement Will Survive: https://www.grubstreet.com/2020/07/chef-amanda-cohen-on-no-tipping.html
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